Project Pi3B+Desk - Making an even better desktop from the Raspberry Pi 3B+!

Earlier this year, I posted about something I called “Pi3Desk” - making a Raspberry Pi 3 into a better desktop than it was.  Lots of tweaks, kernel upgrades, a USB SSD… the works.  And, shortly before I posted it, the Raspberry Pi 3B+ came out, and the Raspberry Pi foundation upgraded their reference kernel.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Comments from Blogger)

2018-09-17 by turkotech

wow thanks for the post. im looking to get rid of my desktop for size and power cost reasons, and i want to replace it with a pi3 B+. i see the case you are using is a bit expensive here in canada, and i was wondering if that i got a normal (or did a 3D print) case with one of those tiny fans, would i still be ok rocking the pi as my desktop?

2018-09-17 by Russell Graves

As long as you can keep the thermal throttling contained, you should be OK. For a lot of people, the Pi loads up, then throttles, and you’re stuck with something that is legitimately slow. The FLIRC case keeps that from happening.

If you have a small fan, it should work as well. Just keep a 3B+ below 60C for max performance, and below 80C period, and things will work.

I’m still using the “Moster” case I reviewed earlier this year on one of my desktops (passive heatsink, no fan), and even though it will throttle during kernel builds, it behaves fine for most desktop use - it’s a bit more bursty than sustained load.

2018-09-17 by turkotech

alright thank you sir. i might go your route although im not partial to the idea of a exposed fan on the top. i have kids so them touching it would not be a fun. can’t wait to get this project started. i might even try to get this thing powered off a solar panel if its feasible for me.

2018-09-17 by Russell Graves

The large heatsink/fan is probably not needed. The FLIRC case will hold 1.2GHz sustained without it, but it requires extra cooling to sustain 1.4GHz. Last week’s post goes into a lot more detail on cooling.

The bare 3B+, though, without any heatsink? It gets hot in a hurry. Just not as bad as the 3B.

2018-09-21 by Unknown

Thanks for posting these instructions! I tested out the process on one of my rpi 3Bs and satisfied with what I saw bought a 3b+, a cheap msata ssd and a case with a fan. Since the 3b+ supports booting directly from USB I flashed a fresh OS directly onto the SSD and it booted right up. At this moment, the pi is compiling the kernel at 1.4 Ghz and just shade under 59 degrees!

2018-09-21 by Russell Graves

Excellent! I know they can do USB booting, I’ve just struggled to make it reliable, so I didn’t include it in these instructions. Enjoy!

2019-02-27 by Mr Routledge

Thank you so much. An excellent tutorial and just what I needed. Been running a RPi 3B+ for a while as a mini desktop for the little one and using as a thin client for work / to connect to cloud PC, been having a few freezes etc using ZRam. Just given Zswap a go, I’m liking it so far. My SSD mounts just under the Pi on standoffs, the Flirc case above sits between 50 and 60 degrees, but no higher on 100% load.

2019-02-28 by Russell Graves

Which SSD enclosure are you using that is compatible with the FLIRC case like that?

2019-02-28 by Mr Routledge

This one… MakerHawk Raspberry Pi X850 mSATA SSD Storage Expansion Board New Upgrade Version for Raspberry Pi 3 Model B/2B/B+

Not so much an enclosure as mounted underneath. The top of the FLIRC case just rests on top, still gives good thermal transfer and disperses the heat evenly. You could still do the fan mod displayed above if you wanted.

2019-02-28 by Mr Routledge

I am currently getting into 3D printing, but needed something powerful enough to do the modelling (Fusion360, Meshmixer, Sketchup) and do the slicing. Couldn’t afford a powerful enough rig so I just rent one in the cloud. Cost me about £20 a month but performs well using Parsec through the Pi.